As one of the main repositories documenting the history of western Massachusetts and New England, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.
Concentrated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Among the more valuable collections for the political history of the region is the papers of Silvio O. Conte, Republican congressman from the First District of Massachusetts from 1959-1991. A member of the House Appropriations Committee (and its ranking minority member from 1979-1991), Conte is particularly remembered for his work in Health and Human Services, education, and the environment. SCUA also holds collections for state representatives John Haigis and Maurice Donahue, as well as other figures involved in political life in the Commonwealth.
Although the Department holds materials relating to individual communities in western Massachusetts, the history of the Quabbin watershed is a particular focal point. SCUA collects books printed in the Quabbin region and more generally, in rural New England prior to 1900, as well as manuscript, printed, and photographic collections relating to Quabbin towns.
- Business and industry
- In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
- Civic organizations and charities
- Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
- Family history
- SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
- Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
- Medical history
- Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
- Military history
- Political life and culture
- The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
- Printing in rural Massachusetts
- SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
- Quabbin Regional collections
- Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
- Religious life
- Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
- New England regional history
George Edward Stone Papers, 1890-1957.
Call no.: FS 085
Professor of Botany, Massachusetts Agricultural College.
Correspondence, lecture notes, reports, notes on experiments, drawings depicting original apparatus, scrapbooks of printed botanical illustrations, student papers, genealogies, memorabilia, and photographs; together with papers reflecting administrative and official duties; correspondence, notes, and news clippings on psychic phenomena; and autobiographical notes, including reflections on Massachusetts Agricultural College and on Emily Dickinson.
- Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Botany Department
- Plant physiology--Massachusetts
- Barlow, Waldo
- Stone, George E. (George Edward), 1860-1941
Types of material
Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society Minutebook, 1842-1846.
Call no.: MS 016 bd
Club that met weekly or bi-weekly in Storrsville, Massachusetts, to debate questions of local, national, and international interest including religion, abolition and slavery, human nature, penal reform, the lure of the West, intemperance, and war and peace. Single minutebook includes two versions of the constitution, proposed and debated questions, the teams, the outcome, and notations of any additional activities that took place during the formal meetings.
- Ciceronean Debating Club (Dana, Mass.)
- Dana (Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
- Debates and debating--Massachusetts--Dana (Town)--History
- Storrsville (Dana, Mass. : Town)--Intellectual life--19th century
- Storrsville Lyceum Debating Society (Dana, Mass.)--Archives
Types of material
- Minute books
Noah Lyman Strong Account Book, 1849-1893.
Call no.: MS 187
Operator of a sawmill and gristmill in Southampton, Massachusetts, later an owner of tenements and other real estate in Westfield, Massachusetts. Includes lists of gristmill and sawmill products, the method and form of payment (cash, barter for goods, or services such as sawing or hauling), real estate records, and miscellaneous personal records (school, clothing, board, and travel expenses for his niece and nephew; accounts for the care and funeral of his father-in-law and the dispensation of his estate; a Strong family genealogy; town of Westfield agreements and expenses; a list of U.S. bonds that Strong bought; and money lent and borrowed, among others).
- Barter--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
- Boardinghouses--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
- Clapp, Anson--Estate
- Fowler, Henry
- Grist mills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
- Guardian and ward--Massachusetts--History--19th century
- House construction--Massachusetts--Westfield--History--19th century
- Millers--Massachusetts--Southampton--Economic conditions--19th century
- Railroad companies--United States--History--19th century
- Sawmills--Massachusetts--Southampton--History--19th century
- Southampton (Mass.)--Economic conditions--19th century
- Strong family
- Strong, Noah Lyman, 1807-1893--Finance, Personal
- Westfield (Mass.)--History--19th century
- Westfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--19th century
- Strong, Noah Lyman
Ray Ethan Torrey Papers, 1832-1983.
Call no.: FS 121
A plant morphologist and member of the Botany Department at Massachusetts Agricultural College, Ray Ethan Torrey was among the college’s most charismatic faculty members during the early twentieth century. Born in Leverett, Mass., and educated in the local public schools, Torrey graduated from MAC with the class of 1912, earning his PhD at Harvard six years later. After serving on the faculty of Grove City College and Wesleyan, he returned to his alma mater in 1919, where he remained for more than 36 years. A specialist in plant morphology and author or two widely used textbooks and numerous articles, Torrey’s introductory course in botany was among the most popular in the college. He was best known, however, for taking a broader, philosophical approach to science that encouraged students to explore the connections between philosophy, science, religion, and the humanities. Torrey died of leukemia in Boston on Jan. 16, 1956.
Correspondence, chiefly with former students and colleagues at other institutions; lecture notes and outlines; 27 pen and ink drawings; published writings and drawings; biographical material; class and laboratory notes taken by students; family and educational records (1832-1956); photographs, and other papers.
- Botany--Study and teaching
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Botany Department
- Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-
Types of material
- Pen and ink drawings
Ruth J. Totman Papers, ca. 1914-1999.
Call no.: FS 097
Trained as a teacher of physical education at the Sargent School in Boston, Ruth J. Totman enjoyed a career at state normal schools and teachers colleges in New York and Pennsylvania before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College in 1943, building the program in women’s physical education almost from scratch and culminating in 1958 with the opening of a new Women’s Physical Education Building, which was one of the largest and finest of its kind in the nation. Totman retired at the mandatory age of 70 in 1964, and twenty years later, the women’s PE building was rededicated in her honor. Totman died in November 1989, three days after her 95th birthday.
The Totman Papers are composed mostly of personal materials pertaining to her residence in Amherst, correspondence, and Totman family materials. The sparse material in this collection relating to Totman’s professional career touches lightly on her retirement in 1964 and the dedication of the Ruth J. Totman Physical Education Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Supplementing the documents is a sizeable quantity of photographs and 8mm films, with the former spanning nearly her entire 95 years. The 8mm films, though fragile, provide an interesting, though soundless view into Totman’s activities from the 1940s through the 1960s, including a cross-country trip with Gertrude “Jean” Lewis, women’s Physical Education events at the New Jersey College for Women, and trips to Japan to visit her nephew, Conrad Totman..
- College buildings--Massachusetts--Amherst--History--Sources
- Conway (Mass.)--Genealogy
- Dairy farms--Massachusetts
- Family farms--United States
- Farm life--United States
- Physical Education for women
- Totman family
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--History
- Women physical education teachers
- Drew, Raymond Totman, 1923-1981
- Lewis, Gertrude Minnie, 1896-
- Totman, Conrad D
- Totman, Ruth J
Types of material
Clinton Brann Papers, 1891-1963.
Call no.: MS 594
In 1918, Clinton Melville Tilman Brann, a dentist by training, served with in the 17th Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, a unit cited for gallantry in five critical engagements of the First World War. During his time overseas, Brann maintained an intense correspondence with Rhea Oppenheimer, despite fears that their different religious (he Presbyterian, she Jewish) and family backgrounds would prove an obstacle. After demobilization, Brann returned home and on Sept. 17, 1919, married Rhea. He went on to build a successful practice in dentistry in Iowa, raising a son and daughter. Clinton Brann passed away on Sept 8, 1961, in Orlando, Fla., with Rhea following on December 29, 1987 in Winter Park, Fla.
In two regards, the Brann collection presents an unusual glimpse into families affected by the First World War. First, Brann’s letters home offer a sense of his unusual role in the service, as a junior officer and dentist, and second, his letters are marked by his unusual relationship with Rhea Oppenheimer and their concerns over the future prospects for a mixed marriage. The collection also includes a wealth of photographs of the Branns’ life together, a family scrapbook, and a handful of mementoes and miscellaneous documents.
- Brann family
- World War, 1914-1918--Medical care
- Brann, Clinton
- Brann, Rhea Oppenheimer
Types of material
Sadie Campbell Papers, 1812-2002.
Call no.: MS 439
A housewife, mother and active community member, Sadie Campbell was born in 1881 and lived at 1 Depot Street in Cheshire, Massachusetts for most of her life until she died in 1971. Sadie was closely tied to the Cheshire community where she had a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and was active in a a number of organizations, such as: the Cheshire Ladies Reading Club, the Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club, and the Cheshire Cash Tearoom.
The collection documents three generations of a western Massachusetts family. The variety and nature of the materials in this collection offer a good view into the local and social history of western Massachusetts through the lives of Sadie Campbell and her family.
- Cheshire (Mass.)--History
- Cheshire Cash Tearoom
- Family--Massachusetts--History--19th century
- Family--Massachusetts--History--20th century
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--19th century
- Merry Wives of Cheshire Shakespeare Club
- Small business--Massachusetts
- Tyrell, Augustus
- Williams Manufacturing Company
- Women--Societies and clubs--History--19th century
- Campbell, Sadie
Types of material
- Account books
- Letters (Correspondence)
Luke Drury Papers, 1746-1831.
Call no.: MS 258
Soldier in Revolutionary War and Shays Rebellion, later a state legislator and local politician from Grafton and Marlboro, Massachusetts. Drury’s papers contain family and business (farm and mill) correspondence, notes of hand, bills, receipts, and legal papers as well as records pertaining to the town of Grafton. Collection also includes papers of Timothy Darling and the Goulding, Place, and Sherman families.
- Grafton (Mass.)--History
- Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
- Darling, Timothy
- Drury, Luke, 1737-1811
- Goulding, Israel
- Sherman, Thankful Temple
Types of material
Benjamin W. Dunham Papers, ca.1897-1907.
Call no.: MS 573
Situated on a hill overlooking Quabbin Lake, the Quabbin Inn was a well known resort near Greenwich, Mass. During its peak years during the turn of the twentieth century, the Inn was owned by Otis Dunham, but it figured prominently in the lives of the entire Dunham family.
The Dunham papers contain family correspondence addressed to Benjamin W. Dunham during his service as a machinist with the U.S. Navy. In addition to discussions of the business of the Quabbin Inn, the collection includes news and gossip from the town of Greenwich, the attempted suicide and subsequent hospitalization of Benjamin’s brother Asa, and the migration west of another brother, Herbert.
- Greenwich (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Quabbin Inn (Greenwich, Mass.)
- Quabbin Reservoir Region (Mass.)--History
- Dunham, Benjamin W